It is with a very heavy heart that I write this post. Nobody I know personally has died this week, and I’m not reflecting on the tragedy of the 9/11 attack on America from twelve years ago today. Nothing that terrible, but Alan and I are leaving our “chapel family” for the past 18 years and moving to a different church. This has been a very difficult decision to make, and Alan has been thinking about it for many months, but he feels the need to move for the sake of his own spiritual growth, and as his wife, I feel the need to support whatever is best for him, since as long as the teaching is orthodox, I tend to be happy wherever. Nevertheless, I mourn, just like I’ve mourned every time we’ve moved. Something about change unsettles me. I’m happy to gain but not happy to lose, and there are inevitably losses with every gain, whether or not we consciously understand or acknowledge them. The clear loss to me is the fellowship of many dear friends that I’ve walked the pilgrim path with over the past years…so long that I’ve pretty much seen a generation of children grow up and start rearing their own families…and that’s the longest I’ve ever been in one community.Two of my closest friends at the chapel are Cindi and Susan. We have a “birthday club” together, and we get together with our spouses every so often. Cindi had us all over to celebrate Alan and my 40th anniversary earlier this year, and I wanted to do something to cheer up Susan and Steve (who lost both their [elderly] moms this summer)…and Rex and Cindi (who just installed their youngest in college a couple of days ago)… so I invited everybody over for an end-of-summer, kick-off-the fall picnic. Little did I know when we invited them over that Alan & I would need a some cheering up too! (Are you curious about what Steve’s eating? Crispy kale chips from Cindi and Rex’s farm share. If you’re wondering how to use up an abundance of kale: wash, coat gently and lightly with olive oil, spread in single layers on baking sheets, salt to taste, and bake until crisp. Talk about a yummy alternative to potato chips! Great appetizer. I think we ate them all. 🙂 ) At any rate, although the mood was much more sober than usual, it was truly therapeutic just being together. I am most thankful that we’re not leaving GR. It’s hard enough moving to a different church without losing easy access to BFFs! (You can see from my lack of pictures that I wasn’t feeling very festive last night!) After dinner we sent the couples off for just a bit to enjoy romantic boat rides. It made me think about how marriage is like “shoving off” with your spouse on a lifetime adventure. You really don’t know where all you’ll be going…but you know that as long as you “both shall live,” you’ll be together (God enabling). I was reflecting this morning on our lives in terms of focus and fruitfulness. In my own life, I’ve been focused on what’s close at hand (the goldenrod in this picture). The Lord must want me to focus on something “across the fence”…let’s say the wild, pink sweet peas. Quite different, but still lovely…and still okay. Or, maybe what he really wants me to focus on are the scarlet leaves turning in the background. I have no clue what God’s doing, but I’m willing and watching. And, how about this one? Our woods is full of grapes and apples just now. How should I be spending my time this year? What “fruit” does the Lord really want me to work more on producing…apples…or grapes? How about you? Are you experiencing change in your life? Loss? Upheaval? I hope as all of us launch into this new season, we trust completely in the Lord, knowing that he is with us no matter where we go. Truly, he is our first and foremost “best friend forever” who will guide our steps and direct our paths. Lord, please help us to trust you as our best friend forever, to focus on what you want us to see, and to abide in you—in Christ—the true Vine.
“If I ascend up into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there will your hand lead me, and your right hand will hold me.” (Psalm 139:8-10)
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman…Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, no more can you, except you abide in me.” (John 15:1, 4)